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Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) refers to cancers of the lymphatic system. Tumors develop from lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that helps the body to fight infection and support the immune system. The causes of NHL are unknown, but studies have shown an association with certain chemicals that may impair the immune system, as well as certain types of viruses. The common mechanism for all these agents appears to be immunosuppression.
Overall, NHL accounts for about 4% of all cancers diagnosed annually. About 330 new cases of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma were diagnosed in New Mexico year 2013. The rate at which bladder cancer is newly diagnosed in the U.S., as well as in New Mexico, has been consistently increasing since the 1970's, particularly between 1975 and 1990. Since then, the rate of NHL has continued to increase, but to a much smaller extent. Improvements in the detection and diagnosis of NHL may account for some, but not likely all of the increase.
NHL is mostly a disease of older adults, in which about 75% of the cases diagnosed each year are 55 years of age and older. It can be diagnosed at any age, however, and NHL does account for about 4% of cancers in children. In the U.S., NHL occurs about 45% more frequently in males than in females. Also, NHL generally occurs more often among Whites than among persons of other race.
Scientists have not conclusively identified any particular risk factor that accounts for most cases of NHL. Possible risk factors include:
  • Weakened immune system
  • Certain chemotherapy drugs
  • Excess radiation exposure
  • Certain chemicals and pesticides
  • Autoimmune disease and certain infections
You can learn about known and probable carcinogens from Known and Probable Human Carcinogens at (external site).
There are no proven methods or steps to take to prevent most forms of NHL. Elimination of factors known to weaken the immune system, such as infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), can help to prevent disease. Reduction or elimination of exposures to chemicals and pesticides associated with NHL may help to reduce risk.
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Content updated: Thu, 4 Jun 2020 15:52:03 MDT